How do supercomputers work? Like I assume nasa and big govt have is it like a pc where you can play the best games best specs etc ?


How do supercomputers work? Like I assume nasa and big govt have is it like a pc where you can play the best games best specs etc ?

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A supercomputer is not like a PC where you can play games on it. It’s more like you have a giant room filled with servers that are all working together for a common goal.

Think of it this way. You run a manufacturing plant. You need widgets made. It would take each normal person 1 minutes to make each widget.

If you hired the fastest widget maker in the world, they would make each widget in only 30 seconds, so 2 widgets a minute.

However, you need more widgets made than that, and, you don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket.

So you hire 5 people. Now, if all are there, you get 5 widgets per minute working.

Even the fastest single PC/Server made is not a super computer. It takes hundreds of computers all linked together working towards a common process to be a super computer.

For example, the top supercomputer right now is 9248 x 64 core servers, with 36,992 GPUs.

The original supercomputers, in the 1970s and ’80s, were really just super fast normal computers. They used special CPUs, built with more exotic/power-consuming transistor technology, and had special hand wiring tuned to the speed of light to make sure everything arrived at the right time for everything to work.

They did also have unusually large amounts of, and fast, memory and storage for the time – including SSDs aka “RAM disks” which are a commodity thing now.

There’s not too much different these days in terms of immediate RAM and secondary storage. They still have a lot of that. What’s different now vs. the classic Crays is they’re built with commodity CPUs/GPUs just with VAST numbers of them, in the hundreds of thousands, instead of having fewer “super” CPUs.

They hit a wall in terms of making individual pieces of hardware faster and transferred the effort into the software managing these large numbers of smaller, slower machines. Those individual “nodes” are probably no faster than your home PC, they’re just coordinated very cleverly.

Supercomputers are designed for processing mass data. Simple tasks repeated quickly and independently.

Games are limited by Graphics Cards which are governed by complex interactions, not so much by processing power.

Graphics Cards currently represent a fatal funnel to maximium speed provided by fast processors of raw data.

No. It’s essentially just a ton of computing power.

Going into the details gets a bit messy because of how GPUs/GPGPUs are utilized, among other things, but basically if you think of your CPU, either 4 cores, or 8 cores, or whatever. Those cores are basically “crunching the numbers”, so to speak, and the more cores you have, the more calculations youbcan do in tandem. So a “supercomputer” is kind of just a computer with lots and lots of cores. It can crunch a ridiculous amount of numbers in a short amount of time.

This effectively translates to things like being able to run complex algorithms and simulation systems, or develop machine learning based A.I. You can simulate a computer playing chess against itself a hundred billion times in the span of a week or two.

Check out the wiki for the [email protected] project. I don’t know what they’re doing now, but they used to have an app that would let them use people’s idle PS3 consoles all networked together as a sort of supercomputer to simulate protein folding. The whole “PS console supercomputer” thing is an interesting rabbit hole to go down.

It’s less like a PC where you can play the best games, more like a really cool programming environment, which is connected to the supercomputer. You can use the programming environment from any laptop or PC which can connect to the supercomputer, sometimes even via web based interfaces (varies a lot). So the actual experience involves booking a time slot, and then using the previously mentioned programming environment to make damn sure your code is proper and queued and ready to run on the supercomputer once at the booked time slot.

You could potentially use a supercomputer to play games, but that would require a fair bit of software development effort, to enable the game to make the best possible use of the available compute power and memory.

Supercomputers aren’t like a single super powerful PC, but are rather a collection (cluster) of smaller (usually very powerful) computers. Some computations can be split (parallelized) so that multiple computers can perform parts of them at the same time (in parallel) and this speeds up the computation significantly (Ideally. It’s definitely possible to parallelize something so that it actually runs slower).